Altium Continues to Lead the Way in PCB Design Software

Machines weren’t always so easy to imagine, let alone put together. In the early days of the PCB, every part had wire guides, so they were bulky and had to be designed by hand. Because surface-mount components were discovered in the 1980s, consumer technology (such as phones and home desktops) was able to grow quickly.

These PCBs for small parts are all designed using computer software.And when it comes to that kind of technology, it’s Altium that continues to innovate.

Who is Altium?

Altium is a publicly-traded software company that provides advanced electronics design software solutions for PCB engineers. But before Altium became the industry standard it is today, it was known as Protel Systems. PCBs made with Protel circulated in the manufacturing market in the mid-1980s, making history as one of the first PCB design tools to run on a computer. The software was even used to teach schematic design at major universities.

In 2001, the company changed its name to Altium after it acquired the embedded software design company, Tasking. Tasking’s technology and subsequent acquisitions allowed the company to further develop its PCB design tools.

This year, Altium came out with two new products: Altium Designer 20 and Altium 365, which were both very good.

Altium Designer 20

Rather than just providing a tool that engineers can use to set up their PCBs, as Protel offered, Altium offers a more intuitive and unified solution in Altium Designer. Altium Designer is a hub with all the PCB design tools you need, such as routing, schematic recording, ECAD/MCAD integration, output data generation, and signal integrity analysis.

This year’s release, Altium Designer 20, includes new advanced capabilities such as push and shove interactive routing, rule checking, and increased PCB routing speed. It even comes equipped with Altium’s proprietary ActiveBOM tool, a materials management editor that combines BOM management tools and aggregation technologies. It lets people see how long parts last, what other parts are available, and more.

Altium 365

On the other hand, Altium 365 is the world’s first cloud platform for PCB design and realization. It connects all key stakeholders and disciplines under one hub-be it the designers or those responsible for parts sourcing, from fabrication and assembly. For example, engineers can share their programme with a potential manufacturer, and the latter can intuitively comment on the file. After all, the receiver also has access to the Altium Designer tools that the sender used to conceptualise the design. They don’t need to make text comments to get their suggestions across.

It is also a web-based platform, so the parties that designers and engineers work with do not need to install additional applications. Altium 365 partners with Altium Designer and was not made available until May.

Despite this year’s challenging conditions, Altium’s innovation didn’t stop, and it never will as long as PCB design continues to have room for improvement. Between the arrival of Altium Designer 21 and other proprietary technologies, it will be exciting to see what the company will do next.

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